Garbeta and After: The Plot continues
What exactly happened at the obscure Chhota Aangaria village
of Garbeta block in Medinipur district of West Bengal on 4
January 2001? How many people were killed and how? What happened
to the corpses? What prevents the state government from announcing
a judicial enquiry in spite of such tremendous uproar in the
state and beyond? Nearly three weeks after the incident, Garbeta
stories show no sign of disappearing from the front pages
of Kolkata newspapers.
The facts emerging from Garbeta are quite intriguing.
True to her style, Mamata Bannerjee had lost little time in
furnishing the 'details' of the Garbeta carnage including
the number and names of the victims, claiming, of course,
their allegiance to her party. She even backed up her 'claims'
with all kinds of sample exhibits -- skulls, bones, bloodstained
clothes and what not! But for ones, she had to beat a quick
retreat. It was soon revealed that the victims were associated
with the People's War Group and the number of people killed
was possibly less than what she had claimed. Even the members
of the NDA fact finding team acknowledged that Mamata had
erred and that she should have confined herself to demanding
No less revealing has been the response of the Left Front
government. The government first tried to dismiss the entire
incident as a figment of political imagination of the opposition.
But faced with growing public pressure, the chief minister
soon had to announce a CID inquiry, thereby rejecting the
initial position of his own government. Report now indicate
that the state government has decided to transfer the controversial
and blatantly pro-CPI(M) police superintendent of the district,
who had once been removed earlier from his position as SP
of Bardhaman district following a National Human Rights Commission
recommendation concerning the killing of a truck driver. The
State Human Rights Commission has however chosen to take stong
exception of the intervention of the NHRC in the Garbeta episode
without bothering to explain its own inaction.
The most intriguing twist to the incident has come from
the involvement of the PWG and the CPI(M) response to this
aspect. Reports of a certain PWG presence in the Garbeta region
bordering the three neighbouring districts of Medinipur, Bankura
and Hooghly have now and then been appearing in the press
ever since Medinipur started hogging the media limelight thanks
to the Keshpur incidents and Panskura by-poll. It is now widely
reported that initially the PWG had struct aa deal of sorts
with the CPI(M), a fact corroborated by none other than Sushanta
Ghosh, the CPI(M) minister from the district who is credited
to be the brain behind the party's post-Bankura recovery campaign.
The mission accomplished and the deal having run into difficulties,
the CPI(M) probably wanted to rid itself of the PWG problem
and the carnage at Garbeta could well reflect the beginning
of a politico-military realignment of forces.
As far as the PWG is concerned, Garbeta is perhaps part
of its unfortunate anarchist destiny. Devoid of its own independent
politics, it is always liable to be trapped in a game of political
football between CPI(M) and the TMC-BJP combine. One does
not know if the PWG will ever be able to learn any political
lesson from Garbeta, but what really merits the critical attention
of every Left activist and campaigner for democratic rights
is the attitude of the CPI(M) leadership.
Reacting to the PWG angle of Garbeta incident, CPI(M)
leader and editor of the party's weekly organ People's Democracy,
Sitaram Yechuri had rushed to portray the incident as part
of a larger challenge to national security (and of course,
international conspiracy), advising Advani to ponder and probe.
Comrades Surjeet and Karat were of course quick to reject
this suggestion of a central probe. Instead, CPI(M) publicists
have now chosen to expose the 'double standards' of the BJP
and the NDA government on the issue of combating Naxalism.
We are reminded that on 23 December, 1999, in reply to a question
raised in the Rajya Sabha by Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Nirupam (a
member of the NDA's fact-finding mission to Garbetaa) on the
growing 'threat' of leftwing extremism in the country. Home
Minister Advani had lauded the CPI(M)'s role in tackling the
threat. By questioning the NDA government's 'politically motivated'
concern for human rights of Garbeta Naxalite victims, the
CPI(M) would like to 'expose' Advani's insincerity on the
question of combating Naxalism! To be sure, invoking the bogey
of leftwing extremism is the easiest way of tackling the embarrassing
question of human rights!
These are dangerous signs of history repeating itself
in West Bengal. Thirty years ago, the CPI(M) in West Bengal
had collaborated with the Congress to crush naxalism only
to invite the white terror, which culminated in the Emergency
and brutal state repression on thousands of activists of the
CPI(ML) and CPI(M) alike. If the TMC is able to expand in
West Bengal, the reason has to be located primarily in the
growing resentment of the people. By rfusing to institute
a judicial enquiry into Garbeta, the CPI(M) is only tarnishing
the image of the Left and giving a handle to anti-Left propaganda.
And far from pushing the BJP on a defensive, any invoking
of the theme song of 'Naxalism and national security' to make
common cause with the ruling classes will only disarm the
Left and democratic forces and play into the hands of saffron
reaction in West Bengal and beyond.
Democratic forces therefore demand a judicial inquiry
into the Garbeta incident. let the truth, the whole truth,
come out. Truth alone can form the foundation of a real recovery
of the Left in West Bengal.
General Secretary's Press Statement
No Temple at Ayodhya At Any Cost
In a press statement issued in Calcutta,
Com. Dipankar said that Party CC has resolved to launch a
nationwide campaign to organise a determined secular democratic
resistance against the BJP's renewed bid to rake up the Ayodhya
issue. Cautioning all secular and democratic forces in the
country against believing the BJP's assurances on Ayodhya,
the committee held that to save whatever remains of democracy
and secularism in this country, it is imperative to defeat
any attempt to construct a Ram temple on the plot where the
Babri Masjid stood till 6 December 1992. To prevent the VHP
from further vitiating the atmosphere, the nation must press
for an immediate reimposition of the ban on this saffron outfit.
He said: "To intensify countrywide
resistance against the disastrous policies of liberalisation
and globalisation and promote closer unity and understanding
among the fighting forces, the CPI(ML) favours the formation
of a rainbow coalition of resistance encompassing forces of
the organised Left movement as well as the socialist currents
and other emerging social movements in the country. The process
of globalisation has begun to play havoc with the very survival
of large sections of our basic producers; it is also marked
by a relentless drive to subvert the institutions and notions
of parliamentary democracy in the country. Against this backdrop,
a people's conference against globalisation and for democracy
will be held soon in Delhi where leading activists representing
diverse currents of resistance will exchange their views and
experiences and initiate a united national campaign for self-reliance
and democracy. "
form the fields of struggle...
8 Left Parties Call Bihar Bandh on 17
Bihar bandh called by eight Left parties
including CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), MCPI, SUCI, RSP, Forward Bloc
and MCC (Roy) against Centre's agricultural policy and State
govt.'s apathy towards peasantry was widely successful. Around
10,000 party cadres and peasants courted arrest throughout
the state. In certain districts, viz., Jahanabad, Kaimur,
Rohtas and Buxar, broad masses of peasantry participated in
implementing the bandh and they appeared on the roads with
their ploughshares to block the roads. Trading remained suspended
throughout the state. GT Road was blocked at Mohania, Dehri
on Sone and Aurangabad. Police resorted to firing at Dehri
on Sone. Assam Road or NH-31 was blocked at Kursela, where
police resorted to lathicharge the demonstrators, in which
dozens of activists were injured. The highway from Darbhanga
to Muzaffarpur was blocked at several points including Etbarpur
Chowk, where police had fired during the last bandh. All the
roads initiating from Darbhanga, Arrah and Mairwan were blocked.
In Darbhanga SP himself conducted the lathicharge.
Trains were stopped at Narkatiaganj,
Darbhanga and Dumraon. Police conducted lathicharge at Narkatiaganj
injuring several local leaders and cadres.
In Siwan town, 400 activists led by
Com. Amarnath Yadav took out a march throughout the town and
courted arrest. In Patna, 600 activists took out marches from
State Party office in three batches to cover the whole city.
Apart from leaders of other left parties, CPI(ML) leaders
including comrades Ram Naresh Ram, Ramjatan Sharma, KD Yadav,
Ramji Rai, Saroj Chaube, Rajaram Singh, Kamlesh Sharma, Mithilesh
Yadav courted arrest.
Party had conducted statewide campaign
on 15-16 january to make the bandh a success. Street corner
meetings were held on 16 January evening and torchlight processions
were brought out.
Union for Human Rights Formed in U.P.
A day-long session of lawyers, activists
of civil liberty movement and enlightened citizens was held
at Common Hall, Darul Shafa in Lucknow on 21 January, in which
a human rights forum named "People's Union of Human Rights'
was formed. It is intended that the forum will fight not only
for human rights but also against fascist acts of BJP govt.
and take movemental initiatives for safeguarding democracy.
The session was inaugurated by Com. Akhilendra Pratap Singh,
Secy. of CPI(ML) U.P. State Committee, and presided over by
senior lawyer Devendra Pandey and senior journalist and writer
Ajay Singh. Baalram Yadav, convenor of Progressive Advocates
Association conducted the session. A 15-member coordination
committee with Chittaranjan Singh as convenor was formed.
The session was also addressed by CB Singh, poltical thinker
and lawyer in the High Court, Nihaludin, president of All
India Muslim Forum, law teacher Azim sherwani, educationist
Krishnawatar Pandey, senior left leader Pratap Kumar Tandon,
and others. The session demanded that black acts like Art.144,
Goonda Act, NSA etc. be annulled, judicial rights given to
executive be withdrawn and legal aid committees be formed
at district level.
Blocked in Raipur
In most of the districts of Chattisgarh
there is famine situation. In absence of relief, poor peasants
are compelled to migrate in large numbers. On 20 Dec. 73 persons
were going from Balod Bazar to Nagpur by a cement laden truck.
At Mura village the truck overturned and 9 persons including
5 children died on the spot, whereas 28 others got injured.
When the police tried to take the corpses away, CPI(ML)-led
local people blocked the road and demanded 5 lakh compensation,
along with food for work scheme to check migration. Com. Narottam
Sharma, Secy. Raipur DC and Bhagbali Druva of AICCTU led the
road blockade for 7 hours after which they were arrested and
police took away the corpses. On 22 Dec., a demonstration
led by Com. Rajaram, Party in charge and Com Shambhu Singh,
Secy. of Chhattisgarh was staged before collectorate protesting
Party leaders' arrest. Police released the two leaders on
personal bond and chief minister announced Rs. 25,000 compensation
to the deceased.
Assam Hill Solidarity Day on 7 February
Our readers must be aware that in the
Hill Districts of Karbi Anglong and N.C. Hills of Assam the
Cong(I)-BJP-UPDS combine, in league with the Holiram Terang-Jotson
Bey renegade clique, have started a dangerous game of physical
elimination of elected representatives to usurp power. Mr.
J.M. Basumatary, Executive Member of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous
Council, has already been murdered in his government residence
in Diphu, another member of KAAC has been kidnapped, and some
others along with their kiths and kins are under the gun-threat.
CPI(ML) has called upon the democratic
organisations and individuals to observe Assam Hills Solidarity
Day on February 7, 2001 against this ongoing conspiracy by
Congress(I)-UPDS-renegade clique to destabilise the elected
council and disrupt people's harmony and the autonomous state
movement and in support of the demand for autonomous statehood
to the Hill Districts.
May we request you to write directly
to the President of India as well as to the Governor of Assam,
Guwahati. You may like to use the following Performa.
The President / The Governor
Rashtrapati Bhawan / Raj Bhawan,
New Delhi / Guwahati, Assam.
Subject : Complete
breakdown of law and order in the Hill Districts of Assam,
attempt by reactionary forces to destabilise the democratically
elected Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and non-implementation
of Article 244-A of the Indian Constitution.
We wish to bring to
your argent notice the following important facts regarding
the Hill Districts of Assam:
1. The anti-autonomy,
reactionary forces like the U.P.D.S. and renegades of the
A.S.D.C. along with Congress and BJP are making a desperate
bid to destabilise the popular, democratically elected representative
body of the hill people -- the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council
through terror tactics, intimidation, kidnapping and massacres.
Recentlyy, in a blood-curdling dastardly act, one of the Executive
Members of the K.A.A.C., Mr. Jarowmohan Basumatary, was murdered
in cold blood in his own government quarter. Again, Mr. Bikas
Boro, Public Health Engineer in the K.A.A.C. was kidnapped
and is still in illegal custody.
The manner in which
these acts have been used to 'manufacture a majority' in the
K.A.AC. is unprecedented in the history of Parliamentary democracy
in the country. These developments are a cause of serious
concern because the motive of these reactionary forces is
not only to destabilise the democratically elected K.A.A.C.,
but also to completely disrupt the peaceful, democratic movement
of the Hill people going on under the leadership of ASCD-CPI(ML),
which has become a model of harmony and trust between communities
and nationalities. The methods being adopted to create disruption
are totally unconstitutional and underhand, amounting to a
blatant violation of the democratic process in the country.
2. There have been
no steps on the part of the Assam government to control te
deteriorating law and order situation and stop massacres and
killings of innocent citizens, especially Hindi-speaking people
in these districts, by the extremist U.P.D.S Since the question
of law and order does not fall within the purview of jurisdiction
of the K.A.A.C., and since the Assam Government has proved
a complete failure in projecting the lives of innocent people,
it is important that the subject of law and order be handled
over to the K.A.A.C. immediately.
3. Under the provision
under Article 244-A of the Indian Constitution, the people
of the Hill Districts have the constitutional right to an
Autonomous State within the State of Assam. Yet, successive
central governments have remained indifferent, in not inimical
to this just demand. Viewed in the context of the recent formation
of separate states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal,
non implementation of Article 244-A in the specific context
of Assam has resulted in a deep sense of betrayal and alienation
among the people of the Assam Hills.
In view of the above
developments, we, as concerned citizens, place the following
demands for immediate consideration:
(i) Immediate arrest
of culprits responsible for the ongoing killing spree, foiling
of attempts to destabilise the K.A.A.C. and disrupt peace
and harmony, and institution of a judicial enquiry into the
conspiracy to destabilise the K.A.A.C.
(ii) Confiscation of
all illegal arms in the possession of extremist outfits, U.P.D.S.
in particular, and supply of free licensed weapons to the
common people for self-defence.
(iii) Immediate steps
on the part of the Assam Government to stop killings in the
Hill Districts as well as restoration of law and order in
for immediate implementation of Article 244-A of the Indian
Constitution in relation to the demand for an autonomous state
comprising the Hill Districts of Karbi Anglong and
the Poor, Save Delhi' Campaign
As part of the Delhi Party's programme 'Save the Poor, Save
Delhi' launched on 5 January for two weeks, Party's Mahrauli
district committee of Delhi took out a Padyatra (march on
foot) 21 January against anti-poor and anti-labour policies
of Congress govt. in the state and BJP govt. in the centre.
They also distributed thousands of leaflets. The march led
by Com. Rajendra Pratholi, State Secy., Com. Ranjan Ganguli,
Secy. of Mahrauli District Com. NM Thomas, Secy. of DTC Workers
Unity Centre, Com. Santosh Roy, SC member and Com. Ashok Singh,
Secy. of Badarpur Branch. Shouting slogans like "Stop evicting
industries and workers in the name of pollution", the march
covered a 5-km. stretch from Okhlaa Ph-II Party office to
reach Okhla Ph-I and turned into a mass meeting there. The
meeting was addressed by Com. Pratholi.
In another programme during the same
campaign, North West Delhi Committee of CPI(ML) held a protest
dharna and a meeting on 20 Jaunary at Azadpur Bus Terminal.
The protest meeting was addressed among others by Delhi Party
Secy. Com. Rajendra Pratholi and Com. Ranjit Abhigyan, member
of Central Secretariat, Com. Jeeta Kaur, In charge of Northwest
District, Comrades Satbeer Surendra, Rajpal and Amritlal Chakravarty
and Ashok from Nav Chetna Path. Speakers not only held BJP
and Congress and their central and state govt. responsible
for eviction of industries and workers, they also criticized
the anti-poor bias of the judiciary on the issue of industrial
Socialist Party's 19th Congress
Democratic Socialist Party's 19th congress,
held on January 3-7 near Sydney, Australia with 287 delegates
and observers. The Congress assessed the significance of this
movement in world and Australian politics and identified five
main features of the anti-corporate mass movement across the
1) The new movement reflects a growing
crisis of popular legitimacy for the imperialist ruling class's
drive to globalise their neo-liberal policy agenda of rolling
back all the economic concessions made to working people in
the developed capitalist countries during the long 'boom'
from the late 1940s to the early 1970s.
2) Large numbers of people, especially
young people, in the imperialist countries are deeply concerned
at the deepening of poverty in the underdeveloped countries
which has resulted from neo-liberal globalisation.
3) The crisis of legitimacy for neo-liberal
globalisation is most immediately focused on the imperialist-dominated
international economic institutions that are seen as the key
vehicles for promoting and imposing neo-liberalism around
the world the WTO, IMF, World Bank and World Economic Forum
4) The movement is objectively anti-capitalist
in its dynamics because opposition to the drive to globalise
neo-liberal policies runs counter to the interests of the
capitalist rulers in the rich imperialist countries of North
America, western Europe, Japan and Australia.
5) This social movement, like every
other, is broadly divided between two trends a spontaneously
class-struggle trend centred around the radical, consciously
anti-capitalist forces and a consciously class collaborationist
trend headed by the trade union bureaucracy.
The congress made the assessment that
this new movement presented revolutionary Marxists with the
opportunity to win large numbers of working people in the
imperialist countries to an anti-capitalist, internationalist
In the message of greeting to the DSP's
19th Congress, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya on behalf of CPI(ML)
declared full support to the theme of the congress "Globalising
Resistance to Capitalism". The message appreciates DSP's multi-pronged
initiatives in promoting resistance against globalisation
and says: "From the pages of Green Left Weekly to the streets
of Sydney and Melbourne to forums like the Asia-Pacific Solidarity
Conference and Marxism-2000, you have kept the flag of class
struggle flying against all odds".
on People's Issues
( From Com. VM's article 'Emerging
Patterns of Left Unity and Continuing Struggle', Liberation,
May, 1993; SW, p. 36.)
We also feel that grassroots organisations
in various corners of India are conducting a positive struggle
to press for a people-roiented developmental strategy. In
the present context, they are also raising their voice against
IMF-WB dictated economic policies as well as communalism.
Such forces must all be brought under the umbrella of the
proposed mass forum. The Left must reorient its policies to
include in its agenda the whole range of new issues which
have come up in the last few decades of the developmental
process. And for that the Left must not hesitate in developing
interaction with such forces with a firm faith on its own
ideology and organisational strength. On these and other questions
we must continue our fight within the forum.
[ML Update] [Liberation]
Years of Naxalbari]